|photo by Claudio Gennari||via PhotoRee|
Correspondent Scott checks in with a remarkably neutral view-- for an avowed Royalist -- of Round One of "El Crapico":
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – April 27, 2011
Real Madrid 0 – 2 Barcelona
The pre-game, profanity-laced verbal fisticuffs in the press room set the stage for Guardiola to add a little more pep than usual to his motivation speech, and for the media to read more than usual into Jose Mourinho’s black-on-grey sartorial ensemble. Although recent results have trended toward Real Madrid, Barcelona had Pique’s Shakira shaking for them, not to mention a league-dominating, hyper-passing, goal-scoring machine. So the Lord Voldemort-like Mourinho (I really wish I had come up with that myself) would attempt to work his magic against the nearly-Griffindor-hued Catalans for European bragging rights.
From the game's start, Madrid continued their aggressive, pressing style from the previous match, with similar success as it was not until the 5th minute that Barcelona managed to play a little keep-away, short-lived as it was. The Blaugrana did start to click around the 10th minute when David Villa ripped one just wide of the upright. Then, in the 15th minute, Barca showcased some brilliant passing in tight quarters which foreshadowed their first real shot on goal, in the 24th minute, when Xavi was put through only to see his effort parried by Iker Casillas.
Curiously, precious few fouls were called early on in the conservative but hotly-contested match, until Pepe’s apparently electrified hand touched Dani Alves in the 29th minute, producing the game’s first yellow card. Then, in the 38th minute, la familia Espanola erupted in a squabble over elbows and ever-increasing theatrics. Depending on your loyalties, either Pedro ran straight into a retreating Arbeloa who didn’t shy away, or Arbeloa stepped into Pedro’s path and Pedro just made sure the ref saw – which suspicion was confirmed by a yellow for the Real defender.